Chet Chetter's Tales from the Morgue is a series of short stories as told by an old obliging morgue attendant, licensed embalmer and resident story teller named Chet Chetter to a passing stranger of the night played by you the listener. The stories Chet relates to us are all quite fanciful. They deal with topics that would be classified supernatural and science fiction. They border on outrageous but that is how they are meant to be. Roughly half of the shows feature a nice, likeable, rural southern manure hauler by the name of Elmer Korn who always finds himself involved in some inane predicament. The creators of the series themselves admit the show is rather off-beat but, you will find, not without it’s own charm which lies within the humorous writing and the recurring characters.
This series was created and produced by M&J Audio Theater. The M stands for Mark Sawyer and the J is for Jay Reel. Two childhood friends who met in the 6th grade in 1977 with a tape recorder that had a mutual interest in radio drama as influenced by old time radio shows such as X Minus One, Lum and Abner, and Gunsmoke. One can hear these influences in every story from the subject matter and the character voices, to the plots. The creaking door opening, the host’s oddly humorous manner and the “pleasant dreams” ending are an undeniable salute to The Inner Sanctum and Himan Brown. Between the two of them, Mark and Jay collaborate to do over 20 characters in these stories. Jay is the voice of Chet Chetter, Elmer Corn, the Sherrif, Roland, and Gale Headrush Taylor. Mark only admits to being the voice of Cecil Farris and incidental characters.
Mark and Jay produced the first Chet Chetter story, "The Highway of Death" in 1989. It was born from a series of 95 episodes which they did over a period of years from 1980 to 1995. They call it "The Conofrof Saga". They submitted "The Highway of Death" to National Public Radio and were amazed when NPR responded with an order for 3 more stories. The 4 episodes were accepted and broadcast on NPR Playhouse in 1990. The following year NPR ordered 9 more installments of Tales From the Morgue to be broadcast as a complete 13 show series in 1992. There were a total of 19 shows produced but 6 were rejected by NPR. M and J are quick to point out that rejection by NPR has no bearing on the quality of the show. The rejections merely reflect the stringent guidelines NPR had for broadcast content at the time.
During the 90’s Tales From the Morgue proved so popular that it aired internationally in Australia and England. Some episodes were featured three times on Sue Zizza’s Radio Works including one non-morgue show The Spirit of 76 Marina Hootin’ Nanny.
Mark and Jay developed a new series called M&J Presents due largely to feeling creatively stifled by NPR’s rigid standards. With their new series there were no rules, no restrictions. Anything could be done and was.
The shows varied in content and story lines. For them it was more like a miscellaneous collection from the M&J archives. Unfortunately M&J Audio Theater has not produced any new material in over 10 years at the time of this writing but don’t count them out. They have the same love for theater of the mind as we do and both Mark and Jay would fervently like to return to it at some point. At present Mark and Jay are co-directing, producing, writing and editing a movie based on the first episode of Chet Chetter, "The Highway of Death".
Information was supplied by Mark Sawyer, co-creator of Chet Chetter's Tales From the Morgue.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
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This is the Single Episode Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.
Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
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June 5, 2016 Subject:
this show is a true gem, and I wish M&J would come back and do more. Sure it's over the top and tends more to the whimsical, but there are some actually chilling episodes included in the series, particularly "If You Can't Stand The Heat" and "The Bitter Pill". My favourites include "Excursions In Fear" (which tributes both horror OTR and the old EC comic books) and "It Came From Video" (Mad science! Kaiju pictures! Small town sheriffs with dumb deputies!). The Elmer Corn stories work so well because he's such a likable easy-going character, who's pretty ingenious no matter what situation hits him, be it mutated mole rats, aliens or supernatural phenomenon. Definitely worth your time.
June 20, 2014 Subject:
Goofy Spooky Fun
These shows are not the best thing I have ever heard, but the writing and acting is as good as a lot of "The Whistler" and other shows like that from 50 years ago.
March 20, 2010 Subject:
A Curious Blend
Imagine what 'X Minus One' or '2000 plus' would sound like if their main character was Mortimer Snerd.
Stop imagining and listen to Chet's stories!
August 30, 2009 Subject:
I have so far only heard the Highway of Death episode, but if the rest are anywhere near as hilarious as it was, i shall be having many a funfilled half hour. frankm is right, in so far as the only living character i've heard is Elmer Corn, he does sound much like someone I know, and it makes it easier to use my imagination in picturing the theater of the air.
March 31, 2009 Subject:
Really Good Show
I gave Chet Chetters a 5 because i thought it was a really neat little show, i wish they would have made more episodes with Elmer corn.
October 5, 2007 Subject:
Chet Chetter YEEEE HAW!
This has to be the stupidest, most low budget production I have ever heard but I laughed until I almost peed myself. The characters are portrayed as extremely back-woods and hick, but they remind me of actual people I know. Bless their hearts. I am not sorry I downloaded the series.